Monday, July 09, 2007

Bah Humbug! Building progress

Recently, I read an article in the LA Times that argued that Africa is doing just fine thank you very much. All is not doom and gloom because many African countries have good economic growth. The columnist argued that trade, not aid, is what Africa needs. I got impatient at the over-simplification of this discussion. It seems to me that both sides of the Aid vs Trade argument get over-simplified and people end up slanging off at each other.

So, for peace of mind, I turned my thoughts to the School of St Jude. Here is a project that depends on private aid and that makes a material difference to the lives of hundreds of families right now, while providing jobs and educating the future leaders of Tanzania.

How can this country grow without educated professionals? How can people who live in extreme poverty educate their children without the help of others? While Africa has entrepreneurs who are establishing mobile phone networks and selling minerals to China, it doesn’t have any entrepreneurs who are offering affordable (i.e. no cost) education to the poorest of the poor.

Bah Humbug! Leave them to their debates and take a look at this.

Foundations for three girl's houses

These pictures show progress on the building works for the weekday boarding facilities for over 300 boys and girls at the Moshono campus of the School of St Jude.

A foundation to last for generations

Generations of children will use this accommodation. This school will serve the local area through the coming generations of increasing prosperity. Perhaps at some time in the future, families will be able to afford school fees and will not depend on the consciences of people who live far away.

Columns to support the second floor

These buildings are solidly made, using local materials and local labour. This provides employment for people who can take pride in building their own future, while putting food on the table today.

Good, solid foundations and columns

The weekday boarding accommodation will be open by the end of 2007, ready to house children in 2008. What a change that will be for all the children, and the school. Instead of a two-hour trip to school, they will have a five-minute walk. Instead of trying to do secondary school homework in a two-room house with no electricity, they will have comfortable and safe study rooms and dormitories. At weekends they will spend time with their families.

It seems to me that the poverty in Africa is due to large influences, like geography, and systems of government that have not always been very effective, and trade rules that disadvantage some countries. Individuals suffer the effects of these large influences. Now the system is beginning to change and poor people in Tanzania have the hint of a chance of a better life for their children.

With our help, these children can step into a new future where they can contribute to the ongoing growth and development of this very poor country. So, don't get muddled by Trade vs Aid arguments – your support for the School of St Jude has no downside, only benefits at all levels.

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